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Other Water Sports - 28. August 2018.


GKA Kiteboarding World Tour ‘Air Games’ 2018

Final Round: Fehmarn, Germany 24 – 28th August

Monday 27th August, 2018
Report: Jim Gaunt

Photos: Ydwer van der Heide



The first order of Monday’s dawn raid was to take care of the remaining women’s single elimination semi-final between Champion-elect Mikaili Sol and Pauline Valesa; Sol needing just this heat win to be assured of the Championship (on better count-backs than her closest rival Hannah Whiteley), come what may in the final and then the double elimination.

It’s a challenge in itself to ride at your best at 6.30am, let alone when your first World Championship counts on it. Managing the mind of a 13 year-old can be difficult on many levels, but the Swiss 6x snowkiting World Champion and youth coach of excellence, Fabio Ingrosso, said that Mika was already up at 4.30am and came to wake him; a change from the distracted talent he was trying to keep focused in Sunday’s stop / start heats with up and down winds.

Mikaili, primed for success

The strong forecast held true and delivered nature’s payback after a windless round one in Leucate. Riders would fully let loose and fly.

After calmly testing the waters and her gear for a few minutes, coach Fabio’s final words to his young student were, “Show me the real Mika Sol.” She nodded, swang her kite towards the horizon and got down to business, setting the tone for what would be seven hours of back-to-back heats in which the full men’s and women’s double elimination ladders ran to completion and closed the season out.

Check out the chargers! 
Coaching Mika
It’s more than a solo effort to become World Champion at just 13… though raw talent is of course the primary ingredient. Coach Fabio and Mika’s dad supporting from the sidelines

Pauline and Mika are two of the slightest athletes on tour and French rider Pauline took the longest to adjust to the strong 28 - 32 knot conditions, having the bar ripped roughly out of her hands early on while trying to build handle-pass scores. Mika meanwhile landed a slim 5 before safely compiling a couple of solid kite loop scores. On Fabio’s signal Mika was in for a slick pit-stop, upping her kite size to a nine metre and grabbing her foot-strapped board. Nailing the double front board-off on her first attempt she was safely ahead with five good tricks to two.

Red flag up: she was a 13 year-old World Champion, but there was little fanfare. If she went on to win the final against Hannah she’d be guaranteed a clear points gap with no count-backs necessary.

Mika board off
Mika’s double front board-off was hard to beat… alongside her slim 5s, kite loop bar spins and more!

Hannah Whiteley has found that this mixed Air Games format perfectly suits her robust style of riding. The northwest of England is blustery and cold and can deliver every imaginable wind condition. Hers is therefore a committed style but she will have to wait until next season to “beat that little grom” from Brazil (as she affectionately calls the rider who is half her own age).

Mika went on to maintain a 100% heat victory record this season – eventually beating Hannah once again in the double elimination final later in the day. Hannah retains the second position she's held all year and walks away from this tour with a strong training goal.

“I’ve realised that this is my dream tour that pulls all aspects together. I will be fully focused to be as ready as I can be for 2019. Bring on the Cape Town training!”

Credits also go to third place finisher, Dutch rider Pippa van Iersel who has made a big impact with her huge kite loops, powerful passes and strong vision for how she wants to represent female riding. You'll be seeing lots of her in the coming year. 

Hannah hustling for the win
Hannah, hustling for the win
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